Black Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn's gold medal represents more than a record win

·3 min read

Corrections & Clarifications: A version of this story was updated to clarify a quote by Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who called the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico a country.

When Jasmine Camacho-Quinn broke an Olympic record and won a gold medal in Tokyo, she celebrated a historic win as an athlete, a Black representative of Puerto Rico and a member of a family she just recently met.

Camacho-Quinn made history twice in Tokyo. She beat Kendra Harrison of the United States in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and set a new Olympic record of 12.26 seconds in the semifinal.

As Camacho-Quinn mounted the Olympic stage on Monday, "La Borinqueña," the island's national anthem, rang in the background and she wore Puerto Rico's national flower in her hair.

Monica Velez, born in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, said she was brought to tears seeing the Puerto Rican flag worn by a woman who looked like her on the Olympic stage.

"There's nothing like seeing my island win but even better is seeing a beautiful Black boricua doing it. Someone who looks like me," Velez told USA TODAY. "The representation, the love the island is showing her, it's amazing."

The women in Team Canada dominates: The women on Team Canada have won all 11 of the country's medals in the Tokyo Olympics

Olympians get creative: Hair flair: Athletes, teams sport creative styles at Tokyo Olympics

Velez has been fan of Camacho-Quinn since her first Olympic run in 2016. She said that for most of her life, Velez' own Blackness felt erased from her Puerto Rican heritage, but now she feels represented by Camacho-Quinn.

Angel Jones, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, said on Twitter that Camacho-Quinn is reshaping the narrative of what Puerto Ricans look like and giving young girls of all colors a role model.

"Jasmine, in all her melanated glory, is challenging dominant narratives of what Latinx peopled look like," Jones, who is Puerto Rican, told USA TODAY.

Although Camacho-Quinn was born in South Carolina, she decided to run for Puerto Rico to honor her heritage because her mother was born in Puerto Rico.

“It means a lot to represent such a small country,” Camacho-Quinn told reporters. She added she was proud to represent Puerto Rico, because "it gives little kids hope." Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, although some refer to it as a country or nation of its own.

Camacho-Quinn's journey to Tokyo led her to reconnect with mother's side of the family in Puerto Rico. At 19, she traveled to the island for training and was finally able meet her grandmother. A year later, her "Abuelita Carmen" died.

"After 19 years, I finally got to see you, meet you & hug you. I finally found my 'twin' I would say," Camacho-Quinn wrote on Instagram. "Because I never knew who I looked like truly. I’m so glad I got to meet you."

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Camacho-Quinn's win was only the second Olympic gold medal for Puerto Rico, following Monica Puig’s win in women’s tennis in 2016. It was Puerto Rico’s first gold in track and its second medal in the sport, after a bronze in the men’s 400 hurdles for Javier Culson in 2012.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico, poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 100-meters hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico, poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 100-meters hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

In 2017, Camacho-Quinn tweeted she would "continue running with PR on my chest" not because she couldn't make the USA team but because she loves her Puerto Rican supporters.

Camacho-Quinn's win was celebrated by Puerto Ricans everywhere even aboard a plane. One video on Twitter shows passengers cheering as Camacho-Quinn is announced a gold medalist.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

As she held up her gold medal, Camacho-Quinn told reporters: "I am really happy right now. Anything is possible. Everybody out here trained really hard for this moment. I think honestly all of us, we all should be rewarded for this. We made it."

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn wins gold for Puerto Rico and Black athletes

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting